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Death Comes to Pemberley Hardcover – 3 Nov 2011

830 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; 1st edition (3 Nov. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571283578
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571283576
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 2.8 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (830 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 101,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

P. D. James was born in Oxford in 1920 and educated at Cambridge High School for Girls. From 1949 to 1968 she worked in the National Health Service and subsequently in the Home Office, first in the Police Department and later in the Criminal Policy Department. All that experience has been used in her novels.

She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Royal Society of the Arts and has served as a Governor of the BBC, a member of the Arts Council, where she was Chairman of its Literary Advisory Panel, on the Board of the British Council and as a magistrate in Middlesex and London.

She has won awards for crime writing in Britain, America, Italy and Scandinavia, including the Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Award. She has received honorary degrees from seven British universities, was awarded an OBE in 1983 and was created a life peer in 1991. In 1997 she was elected President of the Society of Authors.

She lives in London and Oxford and has two daughters, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Product Description


'As might be expected from a celebrated crime novelist, her follow-on to Pride and Prejudice introduces a detective story into Austen's world; but without any tremor of incongruity. An acute admirer of Austen's novels (which, her autobiography makes clear, she has been re-reading for more than 80 years), she keeps her sequel close to their ironic spiritedness, moral toughness and psychological finesse ... brimming with astute appreciation, inventiveness and narrative zest, Death Comes to Pemberley is an elegantly gauged homage to Austen and an exhilarating tribute to the inexhaustible vitality of James's imagination.' --Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

'P. D. James has the advantage in having both the skill and the intelligence to hold her own in Austen's company. Her charmingly conceived murder mystery unfolds like a big soft comfort blanket just in time for the nights drawing in: the nation's best-loved crime writer and best-known romance in a magic meld, with Downtony moments below stairs, spooky moonlit bits and some police procedural thrown in for good measure ... James takes Pride and Prejudice to places it never dreamed of, and does so with a charm that will beguile even the most demanding Janeite.' --Claire Harman, Evening Standard

The story is accomplished and witty, naturally, but to see James s sensibility at work on the character of Jane Austen is a wonderful treat. I find the merging of these two women of literature from such different ages to be totally intriguing. --Melvyn Bragg, New Statesman >>
A tribute to Jane Austen and a sheer delight. A book to banish Boxing Day blues. --Allan Massie, Spectator

Book Description

P. D. James masterfully recreates the world of Pride and Prejudice, and combines it with the excitement and suspense of a brilliantly-crafted crime story.

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Rosemary Swords on 6 Mar. 2012
Format: Hardcover
I am sorry this has been my introduction to PD James, an author I have heard highly spoken of. I rarely write reviews, but felt I had to put this down.
This book was truly awful, and it is hard to believe it would have been published if not for the successful authors name attached.
There is no character development at all, in fact the characters are as two dimensional as a photograph. None of the wit and sparkle one gets in the original Austen, but no suspense or drama worth speaking of on the crime writing side either.
If this had been a young writers first attempt, I would have said well done, and maybe in a few years with a lot of work you will amount to something.
To be honest it reads like a set of notes on which one might develop a novel; as if the writer roughly sketched some story ideas, and then could not be bothered to actually turn it into a novel.
Waste your money on it if you want, but I wouldn't bother if I were you.
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160 of 172 people found the following review helpful By F. M. Stockdale on 6 Nov. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Should one's admiration and respect for a highly successful author lead one to turn a blind eye to a disaster (cf Agatha Christie's Postern Gate)? Surely not, since if these Amazon reviews have any purpose, it is surely to offer advice to would-be purchasers.
In this case my advice is clear: don't!
Re-read 'Cover Her Face' instead.
To write a thriller in the style of Jane Austen is about as useful an enterprise as telling the story of the Eurozone troubles in the style of Beatrix Potter. But knowing and enjoying PD James' earliest books, and sharing her love of Austen, I was very hopeful. As it happens, PD James abandons Austen-speak immediately after the Prologue and never recovers it, illustrating perhaps the imperishable brilliance of the original.
The result is a very dull and predictable story of detection with white soup and crinolines, hamstrung by the presence of so many characters above suspicion: the murderer therefore being signposted from early on.
I kept hoping for the appearance of some passing Lakeland poet, one Master Ebenezer Dalgliesh, to rattle the Pemberley shades. No such luck. It made me sad.
I can see from the Publishers' point of view that when a fine and profitable author sets off on an unexpected route, they may have little choice other than to follow and try to make it work. But in that case, why no proper copy-editing, which would have removed the several absurd repetitions and, for example, the strange situation on p81 when Darcy is placed in 2 separate parts of the house - at the same time?
The interpolation of characters from Emma and Persuasion was particularly ill-judged.
Let's hope we may escape 'The Massacre at Mansfield Park'.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Sarada on 7 Mar. 2012
Format: Hardcover
It grieves me to say it, but I have rarely been more disappointed by a novel than I was by P D James' Death Comes to Pemberley. It was massively publicised and from an accomplished author of crime fiction - and as both a lover of Jane Austen and an admirer of P D James, I was looking forward to having my view of Pemberley broadened, as it were, by some modern fan-fiction. But it was not to be. I was barely ten pages in before I began to be bored; and had I been James' editor I would have taken a scalpel instantly to the first chapter (prologue) of exposition. Surely it is not necessary to retell the events of Pride and Prejudice to her readership? After all, not only is the book one of the best-known in literature, but there has been a recent film and a BBC adaptation: surely people can be assumed to be familiar with the story and its characters? Though the prologue adds a little more to the original, it is a tedious beginning to what I had hoped would be a thrilling read. No matter - it was a prologue after all: I determined to let it go and start afresh at Chapter 1.
Alas. Chapter 1 - and succeeding chapters - included so much reportage, not only in the way of new characters but continually reminding us - as if we needed reminding - of the original story, that I almost gave up on it. The historical background is laboured, far too many new characters are put in with long asides about their history; in fact so much information is given that I felt as if the book were written by Mr Collins (and not Wilkie) rather than one of our foremost crime writers. Once the murder is committed James gets into her stride, but, rather like a lame horse, almost immediately gets out of it again.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Pen Name on 27 July 2012
Format: Paperback
And yet I have many to add to the general damnation of this novel. Being a massive Jane Austen fan and former student of her work, I did not approach this book expecting a replication of Austen's style but with an interest in seeing some of the most famous characters of all time being thrown into a Whodunnit. The best bit about the book was the letter from Lady Catherine. Perhaps had James put more effort into getting the rest of the characters right, the Murder Mystery would have been easier for her to write. Austen wrote about what she knew- never are men seen talking alone, servants and ordinary folk are not detailed. P D James didn't have to invent a whole host of new characters. She already had a glittering cast . The set up was brilliant. Lydia arrives screaming that her husband , the naughty Wickham, has been murdered. 'Fantastic!' thought and my mind began racing. Whodunnit? A jealous and frustrated Lydia, or maybe Darcy had been driven to it. Fitzwilliam is here- maybe there was a dark secret between them. Even maybe that freckled girl he led on in the last book or the mysterious Mrs Young... Instead it appears that the author then poured herself a nice cup of tea and let her great grandchildren each take a turn in writing a chapter. £50 to the one of you who makes the least gaffs.....
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